This week’s interview is with Jennifer Nissley, another of my agent siblings with whom I share the amazing Danielle Burby. THE MYTHIC KODA ROSE will be out on July 13th and has been described as an offbeat and romantic novel that follows a teen girl whose desire to find out more about her late rock star father rings her closer to the last person he expected. Sounds amazing!
Read below about her book equivalent of a song she’s heard 1,000 times but never tires of, her regular group of readers, her next project, and more. Enjoy!
Although Jennifer’s first love is writing, she is powerfully attracted to video games, horses, and pretty much any piece of clothing or interior design with an animal on it. She received her MFA in Fiction from Stony Brook Southampton and lives in Queens with her wife and doggo, but sadly no horses. Currently, she’s at work on multiple writing projects.
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
One book I read early on in high school was “Slammerkin” by Emma Donoghue. I remember going to the local Barnes & Noble and seeing it on the display table, and there was just something about the cover that captivated me. Of course, she’s an amazing writer too; the moment I started reading, I was in awe. I clearly remember thinking to myself, “I want to learn how to write like this.” Now that same copy of “Slammerkin” sits on the shelf next to my computer. I flip through it every time I’m feeling discouraged or low, and read it through once every couple years. It’s basically the book equivalent of a song I’ve heard 1000 times but will never get sick of!
Tell us about one of your proudest writing moments.
Getting accepted to not one, but multiple MFA programs was huge for me. Those emails arrived at a point when I was feeling particularly vulnerable about my abilities and overall “worthiness” as a writer, and I’d almost never shared my work with anybody outside of this little writers group I belonged to briefly in college. The fact that other people out there (strangers!) had read my work and wanted to invite me into their awesome programs was just so validating. Nowadays, I’m not SO hung up on receiving validation for my work… but it definitely never hurts. 🙂
Do you have a regular first reader? If so, who is it and why?
Yes! I belong to a writers group with two friends who are my absolute rocks — I trust them with my rawest, messiest drafts, and I know I can trust them to respond honestly. I love getting the chance to respond in kind to their work, too. Every writer should be so lucky
Tell us about your next big project.
Oh man, I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to say about it yet, but my next novel is about a boyfriend and girlfriend who are each other’s everything — until they come out to each other simultaneously on prom night. Basically, it’s a platonic romcom about the perils of moving on while staying together. It’s been an absolute joy to work on and I can’t wait to share it with the world.
Have you ever traveled to do research for your writing? Where did you go?
THE MYTHIC KODA ROSE takes place in Manhattan and Queens, where I live. When I was first embarking on the rough draft I took the subway all over the city to check out different locations, absorb sights, smells, etc. It didn’t hurt that I was also new to the city, just like Koda, and also seeing so much of it for the first time made me feel that much closer to her. Infusing my observations into her story was a fun challenge — I was determined not to glamorize NYC, but present it in all of its gray, stinky glory.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Everything Koda Rose knows about her father she’s learned from other people. Moving to New York City with her mom won’t change that, even if New York was Mack Grady’s city—where he became famous, where he wrote his music, and also where he died.
Koda has more important things on her mind. Like how she’s in love with her best friend, Lindsay, and doesn’t have the courage to tell her. Agonizing over how to confess her feelings leads Koda to explore Mack’s enigmatic history in search of answers. She tracks down her dad’s band mate and ex-girlfriend, Sadie Pasquale, and finds herself becoming rapidly obsessed with the mercurial musician.
As Koda and Sadie’s complicated bond deepens, they are both forced to grapple with the black hole Mack left behind, or get sucked in themselves.